How to Ace your next Presentation!
Most of us have experienced those butterflies in our belly or our throat drying out when we had to give a speech, lead a group meeting, or present a certain project.
The thought of speaking in front of an audience can be more dreadful to some than bungee jumping. Does this sound like you?
It certainly did resonate with me years back, when I was first starting off as a clinical intern and had to present my research studies in front of very capable physicians and residents. Till this day, there isn’t a client I worked with who hasn’t checked off ‘public speaking’ from the list of challenges that they might be dealing with.
It’s important to look confident during a presentation to ensure you are heard loud and clear. Confidence may help you speak with more clarity and authority. This may help audiences better understand and respond to your message.
Public speaking, or the ability to present confidently is one of the most valued and needed professional skills today. Let’s review some tips that can help build confidence and help you deliver an amazing presentation each time.
Ways you can boost your confidence before a presentation:
Know Your Stuff
You want to come off sounding like the expert in your field, so you ‘ll need to do your homework properly.
Being unprepared puts you at a disadvantage from the get-go; your confidence will instantly be shaken by the fact that you could get caught at a disadvantage (if someone starts asking questions, for example).
Discipline yourself to avoid sloppy vocal habits like those “umms” and repetitive empty phrasing. If you ever speak publicly, ask someone to record you. Watch it afterwards (it’s painful, I know!), noting any sloppy or ineffective vocal or physical habits.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The key to sounding like an expert is simple: practice your speech over and over. You’ll notice how you’re becoming comfortable with each round. Start paying attention to the intonation of each word, the rhythm of your voice, … this will reflect on how you’re coming off as a speaker.
Visualize Your Success
Take a few minutes every day leading up to the event to close your eyes and to visualize yourself on that podium, presenting your work. Be as detailed as possible. See yourself moving your arms, walking around (if suitable), pointing to the blackboard, hear your voice talking, listen to your firm and loud voice, answering questions… The more you do it, the more likely your mind will take you towards that scenario. Keep in mind that whatever you focus on, you get more of. I like to remind my clients about this specific rule of the mind while they go on their healing journey with me. It is one of the basic rules that rapid transformational therapy teaches us.
Engage with your Audience
Connect with the audience. Focus on people who are nodding and showing an interest in what you’re saying. Make eye contact with various members of the audience.
Don’t underestimate the power of a long, slow, deep breath. Since anxiety tightens the muscles in the chest and throat, it’s important to diminish that restricting effect with deep inhalations. In the moments leading up to your presentation, breathe deeply and deliberately.
Silence is Golden, even in Public Speaking
Don’t fear a moment of silence. If you lose track of what you’re saying or start to feel nervous and your mind goes blank, it may seem like you’ve been silent for an eternity. In reality, it’s probably only a few seconds. Just take a few slow, deep breaths. A moment of silence can actually emphasize the last idea you just dropped at your audience, and make it sink in even better!
Get plenty of sleep
Allow yourself plenty of time to relax and rest the night before your presentation. Try to get enough sleep. This may not only help you feel refreshed, but will also allow your nerves to rest and remain calm before the big event.
Get there early
If you turn up early, you will be able to check out the space where your presentation is taking place, and familiarize yourself with it. Feeling comfortable in your surroundings will reduce the buildup of stress, allowing you to present with a stronger opening, guaranteeing your presentation to flow smoothly.
Maintain a smile
While you may not necessarily want to smile, think of it as a way to inspire your confidence. It helps relax the body by releasing endorphins and boosts confidence and self-assurance. The trick is to smile and demonstrate your readiness to talk, even if you don’t feel like it deep down inside.
If you can’t overcome your fear with practice alone, consider seeking professional help. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a skills-based approach that can be a successful treatment for reducing fear of public speaking. Other modalities can help as well. Rapid Transformational Therapy (or RTT) can be a more intensive or aggressive approach to those who are in need of it, thus being a more suitable option than traditional psychotherapy.
To learn more, reach out to Dr. Carla Kesrouani to get some insight on those newer therapy options.